Dear Miss Manners: Is it proper etiquette always to use a euphemism for the word “toilet,” as in, “Excuse me, where is the bathroom (or restroom, etc.)?” Has the word “toilet” become vulgar?
In regards to bodily functions, the less graphic the language, the more polite it is. But toilet, which refers to the room as well as the plumbing, does not generally fall under any ban. Miss Manners has no objection to alternative words if they make you, or the person you are questioning, more comfortable. But be aware that in some English-speaking countries and in some foreign languages, “toilet” is actually preferred.
Dear Miss Manners: I paid in advance when I gave a dinner party for 30 people for a special occasion, and only 26 people attended.
Would it have been all right to ask to take the four extra dinners home? Or is it not permissible? Just curious.
Your relationship with the guests who did not attend is governed by a different set of manners from your relationship with the establishment you paid to feed them. The latter is a matter of business, meaning that if you paid for 30 meals, it is not unreasonable to expect to receive 30 meals.
Miss Manners says this while recognizing that the higher class the establishment considers itself to be, the harder they will make it to take possession of the leftover pot roast.
Dear Miss Manners: When receiving an invitation to a 50th wedding anniversary party, which indicates “no gifts,” is it appropriate to give one anyway?
My sister in Pennsylvania says they always give one dollar for every year of marriage as a gift. I say it is inappropriate and will offend the couple (especially if they have a lavish affair and are moderately affluent).
Because gifts should not be expected, Miss Manners objects to instructions for or against them being included in invitations. But a guest on the receiving end of such an admonition should comply. If you really cannot help yourself, then mail a real gift — not cash, and refrain from bringing it to the event — and apologize: “I’m so sorry, I was so excited about your anniversary that I bought the gift before I saw the invitation.”
Dear Miss Manners: John Smith, our close friend, has been exclusively with Jane Doe for eight years, but they are not living together. We are not friends with her.
Do we address his invitation “John Smith and guest,” or “John Smith and Jane Doe”? I was worried that “John Smith and guest” would be thought of as an insult to him, since we have socialized with both of them about two or three years ago. Which is proper?
Couples are treated as a social unit on invitations, but these days, what is a couple? Married, certainly. Living together as more than roommates, yes, although Miss Manners cannot help you guess whether the latter condition is being fulfilled.
Couples who have been dating for eight years probably believe they qualify and, as Mr. Smith is a close friend, that is the safest course. “And guest” would be insulting to her, but Miss Manners hopes that your friend is not one of those who, though themselves unwilling to make legal or financial commitments to a partner, are prone to take insult if others don’t understand the situation.